Monday, October 31, 2011

Top five scariest movies ever

It's after midnight on Halloween Eve and here I sit, watching another episode of Criminal Minds, looking at pictures of The Grudge on the internet. (Later, I'll be wondering why I have a hard time falling asleep...)
I'm easily spooked. I mean, everything scares me. Not just spiders and insects. Not just jumping out of a plane or running out of coffee. My fears and worries? They're never-ending, and they consume me all day long.

Scary things have happened to me in real life, like almost getting kidnapped in D.C., having a strange man play with my hair on the subway in Queens, New York at 5 a.m after a night out, accidentally going down a black diamond ski hill, and having a gun pulled on me in the middle of winter. (That's a story for another blog post!)
However, there is something that frightens me even more than all those things.

Scary movies.
Certain scary movies stay with me long after I've left the theatre. There are scary movies that I can watch that don't spook me much after viewing, like Friday the 13th, Scream, or Halloween. Other movies, though? Haunt me, years later.

Here are the top five spookiest movies ever:

The Shining



What do you get when you combine Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King? One hell of a scary movie. Whenever I walk down a long hallway in a hotel, trying to get to my room late at night, I think about certain scenes from The Shining. Jack Nicholson was amazing in this movie, and The Shining was one of the only Stephen King novels that did well on the big screen, right after Stand By Me. The movie haunts me to this day. Kids are usually not creepy looking, but this movie made me terribly afraid of kids. Twins, in particular.

The Grudge


This movie is hands down the scariest movie I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. I don't know what possessed me to see this movie in the theatre in the first place, but having seen it only once, I am still completely freaked out. I don't do well watching movies having to do with the supernatural or the paranormal. The drive home from the movies that night was an especially scary drive home. I kept looking in my rear-view mirrow to see if that creepy little boy would be staring back at me. This movie changed the way I do things at home. I can't open a closet until the lights are on and I can't leave any doors open at night, because I'm scared I'm going to see that freaky little face. I hate this movie and the images that are forever etched in my mind.

The Ring

My best friend literally slid out of her seat in fear during this movie and make a sound I didn't know humans were capable of. That's how scary The Ring was. It is very haunting film, filled with creepy images. The story is about a journalist investigating a videotape that apparently kills its viewers seven days after they watch it. Of course, the fear of watching The Ring was that we would only have seven days left to live, too. (Okay, I didn't really believe this, but when those seven days were over, I celebrated!)

The Blair Witch Project


Before Facebook and Twitter existed, a little film called The Blair Witch Project was created. In 1994, three college students went into the woods in Maryland to do a film project about the "Blair Witch" incidents. They were never seen again, and the film was "footage" from their equipment that was found a year later in the woods. The movie documents their adventures leading up to their final minutes. I think we all knew it wasn't really real, yet, I've never left a theatre that was so silent before. The last few minutes of this film are incredibly frightening, and confirmed to me what I already knew: I'm never, ever going camping in the woods!
Paranormal Activity


There are scary movies about haunted houses, and there's Paranormal Activity. I never wanted to see this movie, because I knew if I did, I'd become even more paranoid than I already am. One night, though, it was on TV and I could not look away. That was a big mistake because now I can't even be on the main level of my house with the lights off. If I need water, I'll drink from the bathroom sink, something I'd never think about doing before this movie came along and screwed up my mind. Paranormal Activity is so scary, (I get chills just typing that) I can't imagine seeing the other two. However, a part of me does want to see Paranormal Activity 3 to see just how bad it could be. Apparently, the last 15 minutes will, and I quote, "screw you up for the rest of your life."

What about you?


What movie scares you silly? What movie do you swear you'll never see again? Was there a movie you saw that changed the way you now do things, because it's scared you so much?

Oh, and Happy Halloween. Or whatever you're supposed to say on this spooky day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspiration


On Saturday, I was featured in The Ottawa Citizen newspaper, online and in print. The article was called Ottawa's Fashion Bloggers Extraordinaire: Meet six from the sisterhood of the travelling iPhones. One of the questions asked who my inspiration was. That was an easy answer—hands down, the person who I find most inspiring is my mother.

My mom had a passion in life. Her passion was to be an artist. Although she grew up in a rather strict Greek household, in which education was the most important thing of all, (and the arts not highly valued as a 'real' career choice) she never gave up her dream to pursue her passion. She would hide her drawings in the middle of her school notebooks, so her father wouldn't see. Although she never went to school for art, she was born with talent, and a desire to paint.


Every day people give up steady pay-cheques to chase their dream. My mom did this when she was 30, when my sister and I were both young. She quit a secure job working for Ottawa's Doctor Keon, and jumped into her art career full force, with determination and a positive attitude. Her best friend who later died from breast cancer pushed her to chase her dream, telling her how talented she was.

In the days before social media and the internet, my mom literally walked into a prestigious art gallery with paintings in her arms. As she was showing the gallery owner, someone walked in and said: "I'll take it!" and right there, my mom was accepted into her first gallery.


Her career took off. She is represented in fine art galleries throughout Canada, and in the Koyman Galleries here in Ottawa. Her paintings brighten the halls in the maternity ward of the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital as well as the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Princess Diana, former PM Jean Chretien, Julio Iglesias, Roger Moore, Mila Mulroney, and Nana Mouskari are collectors of her art, and she's been awarded a Governor General Women of Distinction Award for Women in the Arts. She's been featured in The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa At Home Magazine, Odyssey Magazine, Magazine D'Art, and more. She's worked with United Nations on art campaigns, with Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, and has been the face of UNICEF holiday cards since 1993. She's also working with the Children's Wish Foundation on a series of holiday cards this year, raising funds where they're needed most.


She recently illustrated a children's book that has sold in book stores like Chapters, and it's a dream of ours to write and illustrate a children's book together one day soon.


My mom also inspired my sister to start painting, and my sister is busy selling her children's art work, too. I guess we're an artistic family of sorts. Complete with craziness. (You should see how loud we are around the dinner table!)

The best part of her success story is the fact that she's been able to help many people through her art. I've read the letters she's received about how people of all ages relate to her work, how they feel comforted by the children depicted in the paintings, and how certain pieces bring back memories of childhood. Most touching of all, though, are the stories having to do with children.



It's personal stories that really touch my heart—like finding out a couple donated over a dozen paintings to the children's hospital after their child had passed away. Or the story about a man who, after losing his home to a fire, asked my mom to create a painting of his old house, so the family would always remember it. Every day, there are stories that make the fact that my mom followed her dream so worthwhile.

This weekend, here at Ottawa's Koyman Gallery, Rideau Centre location, my mom is having an art show with her latest pieces. She'll be in attendance, as will I, since I am her number one fan.

I'd love to see you there, too. The show takes place on Saturday, October 29 and on Sunday, October 30th, from 12 to 4.

If you can't make it to her Ottawa show, she's having a show in Toronto at Artworld of Sherway in the Sherway Gardens mall, on December 3rd, from 12 to 5.

Sometimes, chasing after your dream is worth it, and my mom inspires me to do the same with my writing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five things

During the opening keynote that Catherine Connors so fabulously delivered at BlissDom Canada, she talked about her "five things". It got everyone thinking about what their "five things" were. The one I had most trouble with was "five things people don't know about me", since as a narcissistic blogger I tend to talk about myself—a lot. Not only that, but I've been blogging for almost five years, so it's hard to come up with new things that people do not already know about me. I worry, I love to shop, I multi-task, I love my children, I interned at some fabulous places, and I was almost kidnapped... yeah, yeah, Loukia, tell us something we don't already know!

Well, here you go:

Five things you don't know about me:

1. I have a bad case of FOMO. (Fear Of Missing Out.) I hate saying no because saying no means I'm going to miss out on something. Like when I left BlissDom Canada on Saturday at 6 p.m. only to find out that Jordan Knight was at the costume party? Yeah, I was missing out.

2. I have to wear my socks inside out, because I hate the way the inside of socks feel on my feet. (Like, little athletic socks. Hate them.) I also like to sleep with socks on sometimes.

3. I am a great swimmer and will win almost any race, against anyone, man or woman. Probably not against Michael Phelps, though. I could swim in the ocean (or pool) all day long.

4. I read Wuthering Heights when I was 14 years old because I was in England that summer and I figured there was no better place to read it. I loved it.

5. I spent six weeks watering fake plants when I was a high school co-op student at an interior design firm. One day, my boss told me the plants were not real and I was totally mortified.

Five things I am knowledgeable about:

1. I know how to shop, and I'm fun to shop with. Unless you're on a budget, then perhaps you should stay home. Shopping gives me a high. I love being in department stores like Saks and I often daydream about being locked in one of those stores for the night. I'd try on clothes until security escorted me away. I could also spend countless hours in a book store.

2. I know that Dazed and Confused is one of the best movies ever, and I could recite the entire movie to you, and sing along to the soundtrack, perfectly. (I also know that Dirty Dancing and Scarface should not be remade. I know the new movies will both suck.)

3. Dante's Inferno. I read this book during my first year Engilsh Literature class in university and the circles of hell scared. me. to. death. (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, Treachery...) I sometimes ask myself "What circle of hell did I enter today?" if I do something wrong. I found Dante's Inferno to be a really interesting topic of discussion when I was in school.

4. I know how to talk my way out of a ticket. "Are you sure it was me speeding?" "I'm late to pick up my kids and I'm freaking out!" "I'm SO sorry... I'll never do it again!' "I wasn't *technically* texting and driving, because it was a red light. Oh... that's a rule too? My bad!" (Yes, I'm Cher from Clueless.)

5. I'm knowledgeable about Greece, and the history of Greece. Being of Greek descent and having spent almost all of my childhood summers in Greece, I know a thing or two about one of the most beautiful countries on earth. And I'm not talking about where the best beaches are, what the hottest night club in Athens is, or where you can find the most delicious souvlaki. Although I know all that, too.

Five things I know nothing about:

1. Fiscal responsibility. I see the 'bills' in the mail, and I leave them for the elves to take care of. Or, you know, my husband. I don't know how to save money for myself, and I don't like to look at price tags. I round down, rather than up. If something is $99, in my head it's like, just a bit over 50 dollars.

2. Related, I know nothing about math and didn't take a class having to do with numbers after grade 10. I barely passed my second year stats course in university, and I only took it because it was required. My nose gets itchy and my eyes start to sting (for real) every time there is math in front of me. I'd rather plug my ears and say "I can't hear you!" rather than have an adult conversation about money, mortage, interest rates, balance, and the importance of saving.

3. I know nothing about what it is like to not worry. I have been a worrier my entire life, and it's only gotten worst since I've become a mother. I often wonder what it feels like to not think 'worst-case' scenario about everything in life. And I'm not really a pessimist; I'm more of a neurotic-devastation-ist.

4. I know nothing about football, except it looks really fun in the movies. I'm Canadian, so that's my excuse. I know a thing or two about hockey and soccer, so there's that.

5. I know nothing about space exploration and how we've managed to put people in space, and have them come back a) alive and b) not completey freaked out that they left Earth's atmosphere. "Oh, look, there's the Earth!" (That's where I'd have a heart attack.) I have also seen "space food" and um, no thank you.

Five things I believe:

1. I believe if you really want something to happen in your life, you can make it happen. I'm a firm believer in never giving up on your dreams, desires, and aspirations. Sure, luck plays a part, but talent and believing in yourself can make amazing things happen. Even if you have to be annoying to get what you want. Every job I've been offered has been a result of me going after it with fierce determination.

2. I believe that living near the ocean is like free therapy. The sound of the waves, and being able to just sit on the beach breathing in the ocean air makes me content and happy. Vacations are very necessary.

3. I believe that no one is meant to live in minus 30 degrees celsius weather. Freezing is an awful feeling. Having to wear layers of clothes and scraping ice off the car every morning for months on end is just wrong. I believe winter is the most unpleasant season.

4. I believe that there is nothing as amazing, incredible, and frightening as being a mother. Every emotion is magnified, times a hundred. There is no love like the love you have for you children, and there is no fear as great as the fear you will forever be prisoner of once you become a mother.

5. I believe the only time I will stop worrying will be when I am dead.

I absolutely loved writing this blog post. It wasn't easy, and it got me thinking, quite a bit. What about you? What don't I know about you? What do you believe? What are you knowledgeabout about? I'd love to hear your thoughts, too!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blissed to the max


I have so many things to think about every time I come home from a blogging conference. The things I am thinking about are never about what I wore, how my hair was, or what purchases I brought back with me. Heck, in New York City during BlogHer 2010 I never even once went shopping.

That should tell you something, right there. For a girl who talks about shopping as much as I do, clearly there are other things that make me happy, make me feel fulfilled and purposeful, excited and determined. There is something (not including my children, of course) that leaves me feeling full of BLISS, and inspired.


(I know, Tanis, but it's true!)

BlissDom Canada.

Man, do I ever feel motivated to become a better blogger and writer every time my BlissDom Canada weekend is over. I'm still on a conference high a few days later.

Now, as someone who has been blogging for (almost) five years, I'm not really looking for ways to drastically improve my blog, since I've already been here a while. However, there are always lessons to take from the sessions I attend. Even the ones that talk about "Taking Your Craft To The Next Level", right, Angella? Being reminded how important grammar is, learning how to properly pitch a story to a magazine, nodding in agreement when we're reminded that personal blog posts are the most touching, and laughing through a panel moderated by the amazing Julie Cole, with Cocktail Deeva, Gail Vaz Oxlade and Patty Sullivan on the panel, talking (and never swearing, goodness no) about branding are some of the things I'll remember, but that's not even the best part.

The best part is the connections and reunions with the friends I've already made, have met before, or are just meeting for the first time. It's the moments that happen between sessions, after the parties, and late into the night. It's the ritual I share with someone at every conference, it's the wind blowing up a skirt as we talk (and talk, and talk) outside in the chilly night, it's the how-many-Oreo's-can-I-fit-in-my-mouth-in-30-seconds that I found myself trying to do in a hotel room with lots of other girls, feeling 14 again, that make BlissDom Canada so much fun.







Sure, it's also about learning and networking, and meeting brands that want to work with bloggers, (if that's what you want to do) but most importantly, for me, is the sense of belonging to the community I am proud to be a part of. Honestly. How many incredibly talented, smart, funny, gorgeous women did I just get to spend a few days with? A heck of a lot, that's how many.

I went out for dinner with bloggers I consider to be inspiring, and that was one of my favourite parts of the conference this year. Sure, I left before getting the chance to meet Jordan Knight (that's right, Jordan from NKOTB joined the annual costume party, that's how cool BlissDom Canada is!) but *I* had dinner with Catherine, Bon, Terra, Angella, Elan and Aidan. So there's that.


Last year I overused the word "awesome". This year, I'm overusing "love".


I loved the launch party at CBC headquarters. That was the perfect way to kick off the weekend.





I loved spending more time with Ali, even if we didn't make it to Yorkville (I'll be back!) and I loved how quickly the train ride to Toronto was, thanks to great conversations with Kelli, Candace, Krista and Maria. I loved seeing Stephanie again, and all the Mom Central Canada ladies, and I loved hanging out with Caitlin again at the Mabel Bliss party. I also loved seeing Alison again and catching up, even though it's never enough time .




I loved sneaking off with Casey to get some new pictures taken (she took the picture I have at the top of this post!) because well, she's amazing, sweet, and super talented. I couldn't not smile, you know?




I loved hugging each and every one of you, and I loved re-connecting with the YMC crew on Thursday night.



I guess it's safe to say that I loved BlissDom Canada 2011. It was all that and more. Like, poutine-beavertail-maple-cookies-covered in maple syrup good, yo!


See you all next year... I can't wait for more memories to be made.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What to bring to a blogging conference

With BlissDom Canada just days away, it's time to start thinking about what you need to bring to this totally awesome, totally Canadian blogging and social media conference.

What I've learned from blogging conferences (having attended BlogHer twice already, and BlissDom Canada last year) is that no matter what you wear, you will most likely have a blast. If - and this is a big if - you're wearing the right attitude.

The most important accessory, truly, is your personality - and attitude. It's also important to step out of your comfort zone and do things that might scare you.

Like going up to that blogger you've always had a crush on and introducing yourself, even though you're usually not that brave. I did this at BlogHer in New York City with Miss Britt at the Nikon party, and we hit it off right away. I believe my first words to her were: "Oh my GOD! You're Miss Britt!" (And this was after we'd shared a few drinks together.) Nothing embarrassing, right?

Blogging conferences are also about sometimes doing things alone. I've arrived at parties solo, leaving with friends. I've walked around on my own, exploring a new city, like I did in San Diego. And I hung out well past my bedtime with other bloggers in my lulu lemons, ordering pizza at 2 a.m. to the hotel lobby.

Sometimes, conferences can be overwhelming. And stressful. It's hard finding the time to connect with everyone you had intentions of hanging out with. You might spend all your time with the same two or three people, or you might float around from group to group - whatever makes you happy, go for it.

The best piece of advice I can give? Be excited, but don't have high expectations. That way, you won't be let down.

The truth is this - it doesn't matter what you wear or what you weigh, or how bad your roots are. If you're not smiling, if you're not welcoming, if you're not friendly? You probably won't have a great experience to go home and write about.

Also know why you're going. These conferences are a great place to meet up with old and new friends, and have a great time, but they're also a great place to learn something new. Attend the sessions that you think are interesting. Ask questions. Network! And don't be scared to hand out your business cards. That's why you got them, right?

Just remember - smile! And don't be nervous. We all attend these conferences for the same reasons.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The importance of play

One of the things I love the most about being a mom is playing with my children.

Too often I'm busy rushing to finish the dishes, folding and putting the laundry away, and washing the floors while my children are asking for me to come play with them. While it's great to see independence in my children—to see them playing quietly alone, trying to finish a puzzle, or playing loudly together, building forts out of the couch pillows like brothers do—it's even more fun when I stop the work I'm doing and join in on the fun.

The laughter and giggles and tickles? So worth a sink full of dirty dishes. (That I'll always return to after the children are alseep because I'm OCD like that!)

Sometimes, we need to be reminded about the importance of play. And all the things that make play time so much fun.

Things like...

Getting our clothes wet.



Playing in the sand for hours on end.



Swimming on a hot summer day.




And even enjoying the outdoors on a cold, cold afternoon.


Digging for fossils and treausure.


Eating ice cream.


And a spoonful of Nutella.


Getting lost in a favourite book.


Exploring new cities.


And crashing, because you've had too much fun.


My favourite part of the day is when I'm involved in some sort of play with my children, whether it's reading them a book, giving them a bath, pushing them on the swings at the park, cheering louder than any other mom at my son's soccer game, or swimming with them.

Play time is so important for children, and to them? Seeing you have fun is what always brings out the biggest smiles. This is what they'll remember. These are the moments to cherish.

This weekend, we're celebrating Thanksgiving, and I'm thankful for so much—especially my family, especially my children. I will give thanks by spending some serious quality time with my boys and enjoying the great outdoors. At the same time, we'll be eating... a lot. Including some Kinder Surprises becausae those always make us smile. And chocolate is a very important part of play time, you know!


Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My scary experience

Last year, I felt a lump in my right breast. Being the worrier that I am, I couldn't put it out of my mind, and kept feeling it over and over again to make sure I wasn't just imagining what I was feeling. It wouldn't go away though, and it was more pronounced when I was lying down. It was definitely something to worry about.

Even though I hate going to the doctor for fear of being diagnosed with some terrible disease, I braved it, and went to get the lump checked out. Right away, the doctor felt it, and she told me I probably shouldn't worry, but I was booked for a breast ultrasound and mammogram to be on the safe side.

The very next day, I went for my first mammogram and breast ultrasound. And it was a very scary experience, a very scary day that had me reflecting on a lot of things. My mom was with me, and I had to take at Ativan to calm down my fears. Everyone at the clinic was friendly, and kind, and I remember the room being full of women of all ages. We were all there for the same reason.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Over 23,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. 23,000. That is a staggering number, isn't it? I know a lot of women who have battled this disease—some are now survivors, some are not, but they all fought the bravest battle of their life.

Thankfully new drugs are being approved and new treatments for breast cancer are being discovered to help cure those affected with the disease. We have the means to get mammograms every year, and we are aware of how important breast self exams are.

If you ever feel unsure about what you're feeling on your body, just go get it checked out. It's the most important thing you'll ever do for yourself—and for your family.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Annoyances: Part Two

Eight months ago, I wrote a post about the things that totally annoy me. Of course, I couldn't list everything that annoyed me in one blog post, so I thought it would be fitting to do a part two. Because you know what? Every day, something annoys me!

Like today, for instance. I had to go to WalMart to pick up a new hook for the back of my bathroom door. I thought I'd be five minutes, max, since I had only one thing to buy. An hour later, I was on my way home with a serious case of road rage because of my experience in WalMart.

The store was crowded beyond belief and since I had only one item to pay for, I went to the express lane. The express lane, I repeat. I was in line behind 48 other people who had (I'm almost positive) passed the 12 items or less rule and had no right to be in that lane. I had one item to pay for. I realize I didn't have to stay and wait in line for a hook, but I'm hard-headed, and I stayed. The express lane? Should never have a line that long and shouldn't take one hour to get through. Ever. ANNOYING!

Other things that annoy me:

News anchors who wear jean jackets on the evening news. Call me old fashioned, but that's just a huge NO in my book. The evening news anchor should not look like Debbie Gibson circa 1988 in 2011, okay?

Bloggers, hi! It's a new blog POST, not a new blog. Example: "My new blog is about things that annoy me." No. Your new blog POST is about things that annoy you. Unless of course you have started a new blog dedicated only to things that annoy you, in which case... carry on and share the link with me!

I've said it before (at least a hundred times) but I'm going to say it again: please learn the difference between you're and your. Your friends will thank you. You're welcome.

Finding a grammar error in a blog post after I publish it, or finding an error days later. Completely irritating!

Desperate Housewives. I'm glad this is the last season, and yes, I'm still watching, even though I'm bored with the show.

The fact that we're still talking about breast vs. bottle. Really?

Christmas commercials in October. I'm the most festive person there is when it comes to the holidays, but really, you guys? It's not even Halloween yet, and you're stressing. me. out!

Never ending piles of laundry. Never ending piles of laundry. Never ending... sob!

Not pumping an exact amount when I'm getting gas. I can't handle it if I have to pay $75.02. It has to be an even $75.00, or I'll go up to $76.00.

Stepping on LEGO. Or marbles.

Finding pieces of Play-Doh attached to my clothes when I'm already at work.

Having to explain to my parents that my car was perfectly clean on my drive to their house, really, but in the 15 minutes it took to get there, the children managed to rip up every piece of paper they could find and sprinkle Bear Paws and Goldfish cracker crumbs all over the car, while spilling juice all over themselves and their car seats.

The fact that I watched Paranormal Activity. You have no idea how badly this movie messes with my mind very late at night. Between that movie and The Grudge, I sleep with one eye open. And a lot of lights on.

The price of items in Canadian J.Crew stores. Not fair, not right. I'm tempted never to shop there again... but don't know if I'm that strong.

Parents who bring young children to movies that are clearly NOT for children. (What are they thinking?)

People who stand too close to me in elevators.

Drive-thru orders that are not done right! I really didn't want to find a pickle in my burger when I asked for no pickle in my burger.

Socks that get lost in the dryer. Where do they go?

People who spit. Just... don't.

Political parties that call my house at 9 p.m. to try to get my vote. Guess what? That's not the right way to go about getting my support. Waking up my child is not cool.

Dogs running loose in the park towards my children, making them cry.

Crazy wasps that want to attack me!

Crazy Loukia running in circles at her son's school while a wasp chases her in front of all the other calm parents. (Not my proudest moment.)

Negative people.

I'm sure my list could go on and on, but I'll stop for now, otherwise I won't have anything to say in my Annoyances: Part Three post.

Now it's your turn! Get it off your chest, and tell me... what annoys you?

Chances are, I'll feel the same way you do!

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